When building a catalog of content, one topic that everyone should talk about is discoverability. How will your learners find and take the right content? Filtering can play a big part! In this article, we'll go over the ways you can add filters to your catalog widgets to best serve your audience.
There are two options for adding filters to the content in your catalog: Custom Content Fields and Curated Categories. While both can be used, each has its own uses and differences. You'll need to decide which method is more appropriate for your learning site.
Use Case Information
Setting up your catalog filters the right way will set your learners up for success! Add dynamic or static filters so that your learners find the content they're looking for without having to know exact terms.
When configured you can control the following:
- Create dynamic or static filters in any of your catalog widgets
- Organize content in ways that make sense to your learners
- Customize filter language to reflect your organization
- Generate unique URLs with pre-filtered content
- Attach values to content that aren't permanent fields in Thought Industries
Options for Filtering
Use this section to learn about the differences between Custom Content Fields and Curated Categories. You'll have to pick one option to be your global default. Also, you cannot have both options present in the same catalog widget - so for each catalog widget in your site, you'll have to pick one.
Custom Content Fields
Custom Content Fields allow you to create dynamic filtering for your learners in any catalog widget across your site. You will start the set up for Custom Content Fields in global settings, then add Fields and Values to individual content items. Any catalog widget will only display Custom Content Fields and Values if it is attached to a piece of relevant content. If nothing is attached, it will not show as a filter option to your learners.
Reasons to use Custom Content Fields as your global default:
- Learners can select more than one value at a time to narrow down results.
- Fields and Values will only show to learners if available content is attached keeping your filters up to date and dynamic in any catalog widget.
- We recommend using Custom Content Fields if you are using multiple catalog widgets across your site because:
- You don't have to customize categories on every page with a catalog widget. It will dynamically show filters for the content in that catalog widget.
- You can always curate categories in a specific catalog widget. However, if Curated Categories is your global default, you cannot choose to use Custom Content Fields for a specific catalog.
Custom Content Fields are especially handy if you use panoramas with varying content!
Curated Categories is the best way to create simple groups or topics in your catalog for learners to discover. Learners can only select one subcategory at a time. The full set up for Curated Categories is in global settings - you create categories, subcategories, and assign content from one place for your global default. You can also set up Curated Categories for any catalog widget throughout your site.
Reasons to use Curated Categories as your global default:
- You don't have to configure fields and values for each individual content item. You can use queries to keep your subcategory filters up to date.
- Allows you to put a subcategory description that will display to learners when they select a subcategory as a filter in the catalog widget.
- We recommend using Curated Categories if you are using the same catalog widget across your site OR if you have a large volume of content and want to keep filtering simple.
Categories and Subcategories will display to learners even if there is no content attached.
Combination of Both
You can use a combination of both options throughout your site, however, each catalog widget has to have one or the other. In order to accomplish a combination set up, you would have to choose Custom Content Fields as your global default. Custom Content Fields would dynamically display on any catalog widget until intervention by an admin takes place to customize a catalog widget with Curated Categories.
Custom Content Fields
Custom Content Fields consist of the field and the value. For example, a field for "difficulty" might have values of "easy" or "challenging". Learners can click on any value to filter all related content.
This is a two-step process: 1) create the custom content fields and then 2) assign custom content fields and values to content.
Creating a custom content field:
- From your homepage, select Courses > Settings.
- Select Organization & Display.
- Click Add Custom Content Field and complete the following:
Field Name: The title for your custom field. For example, "difficulty", "ISBN", or "recipe type".
Field Names cannot match our catalog query options. Most of these options you probably would not use as a name for a filter, but we often see users try to set up a Custom Content Field for "Language" or "Instructor". These terms will not work as a Custom Content Field since there are already catalog fields and filters assigned to them.
Browsable?: Enable if you would like the field to be browsable on the catalog. If disabled (default setting), this specific field will not be visible in the catalog.
If browsable, Custom Content Fields show up as filters in your main content list in the management interface.
However, Custom Content Fields set up with more than one word for the Field Name (e.g. "Recipe Type") are not supported by filters in the main content list of the management interface. The learner experience is unaffected.
- Multiple?: Enable if there are possible multiple values for this field. For example, in the case of "recipe type", a particular piece of content could be both "quick breads" and "sweets". If disabled (default setting), content can only be associated with one value/subcategory within this field. When you go to a content item to add this Field, you will be limited to one Value.
- Include On Articles/Videos?: Enable if you want to display the values for this custom field on article/video content types as a Tag in the left sidebar.
Include Field Name On Articles/Videos too?: If you enable the previous setting for Values, an additional toggle with display. Enable if you want to display the custom content field on article/video content types as a Tag in the left sidebar.
- Value Sort Order: Choose how you would like the Values to display to the learner in the catalog sidebar.
- Field Name: The title for your custom field. For example, "difficulty", "ISBN", or "recipe type".
- Click Save.
After creating a field, refresh your instance (ctrl+r or cmd+r) to see the Custom Content Field as an option in content items.
Adding a field and value to a content item:
Once you’ve created one or more custom fields, you can assign values for each piece of content.
- From your homepage, select Courses > All Courses.
- Click the Content Title for the course you want to alter and go to the Design Step.
- Click Edit Catalog Settings and locate the Custom Fields section.
- Choose a field from the drop-down list and then click Next Step.
- Type the desired value within the search field. If the value already exists, you can select it. Or, click Add once you're done typing to create a new value.
- Click Save.
- Repeat steps 4-6 until all of your custom fields have been added.
Editing Custom Content Fields:
- To remove a custom field from a piece of content, click the trash icon next to the custom field. There is no confirmation step and the custom field will disappear right away, but you can add it back if needed.
- To remove a value from a piece of content, click the pencil icon to edit the custom field entry. Then, click into the input box and delete. Enter a new value and click Save.
If you want to remove a value as an option for a Custom Content Field, you will have to remove it from all items of content where it currently exists.
Curated Categories consist of a category and subcategory. For example, a category for "difficulty" might have subcategories of "beginner" or "advanced". Learners can click on any subcategory to filter all related content.
The whole process can be done from one screen because you will create the category, subcategory, and assign content in one place.
Creating Curated Categories:
- From your homepage, select Courses > Settings.
- Then select Organization & Display.
- Scroll down the page and locate the Catalog section. Click the Show Advanced button at the bottom of the section.
- From here, click Curate Categories to begin adding your categories and subcategories.
- Enter a Category Label for each category you'd like to add.
- Next, click Add a subcategory and complete the fields for as many subcategories as needed:
- Subcategory Label: The title related to your subcategory. This is what a learner will click on as a filter in the catalog widget.
Content Query: Each subcategory requires you to either select individual pieces of content, or to use content query language to determine what content should appear by default.
Use queries, like content tags, to make sure you're filtering can easily stay up to date and be more dynamic. If you add individual content, you may be revisiting this page quite a bit. Remember, if you're content isn't assigned to a subcategory, it will display in the catalog, but it won't show up in any filter results unless assigned!
- Subcategory Description: The description that displays to the learner at the top of results when the subcategory is selected in the catalog. This is unique to Curated Categories.
- Click Done.
- Continue creating categories and subcategories as needed.
- Click Save.
Editing Curated Categories:
- To rearrange how categories and subcategories will display to learners, use the four arrow icon to move them around.
- To edit content assigned to subcategories or subcategory descriptions, click Edit for the category, then Edit again for the subcategory. Don't forget to Save.
- To delete a subcategory, click Edit next to the category, then click the trash icon next to the subcategory. To delete a whole category and subcategories, simply click the trash icon next to the category.
If you have set up Curated Categories, but you want to use Custom Content Fields as the global default instead, delete all Categories and Subcategories from the Curated Categories section. If you customize any catalog widget settings, you'll want to double check if you have any Curated Categories there as well.
Adding Curated Categories to a Custom Catalog Widget:
Curated Categories can be set up specific to any catalog widget on your site, meaning catalog widgets can vary from your global default set up. Use these steps if:
- You're using Custom Content Fields as your default, but want one catalog widget to use Curated Categories.
- You're using Curated Categories as your default, but want one catalog widget to have different categories and subcategories.
- From your homepage, select Site > Site Builder.
- Choose Layouts or Pages. This will depend on if you want to edit a default layout or a custom page. Either way, you should choose to edit a page where you already have or desire to add a catalog widget.
- Go into the page's design mode.
- Locate or add the catalog widget and enable Customize Settings.
- Scroll to the bottom of settings and click Show Advanced.
- Click Curate Categories.
- Add a Category Label.
- Click Add Subcategory and add a Subcategory Label, assign content, then add a Subcategory Description if desired.
- Click Done.
- Click Save Category.
- Continue to add Categories and Subcategories as needed. You can always go back to edit or delete them.
- Click Save at the bottom of your catalog settings options to save changes to the widget.